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Tolerance, Identity, and Difference in Amsterdam (virtual/online)

Amsterdam, Netherlands

Term Offered: 
Woman in colorful headscarf in front of somber 17th-century portraits of Dutch elite
Approximate Dates of Instruction: 
March 29, 2021 to June 4, 2021

Following the cancellation of all UW study abroad activities, this program has now been moved online.

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Russell Shorto has called Amsterdam “the world’s most liberal city,” and indeed, the Netherlands is well known for its “tolerant” approaches to drug enforcement, legalized prostitution, and gay rights. However, recent events have brought this self-congratulatory attitude into question. In debates over immigration and multiculturalism, public commentators from across the political spectrum have argued for the limits of tolerance and the need to defend Dutch national identity against intolerant views, especially those allegedly associated with Islam. Large segments of the Dutch populace—and prominent politicians—have expressed fear, revulsion, and anger towards Dutch Muslims, whether recent immigrants or the children or grandchildren of so-called “guest workers” from Morocco and Turkey who helped power the Netherlands’s economic recovery after World War II.

This program contextualizes these debates by exploring the concept of tolerance in narratives of Dutch national history and in contemporary debates about the place of religion, race, gender, and sexuality in Dutch identity. Together with partners in the Netherlands, we will explore Dutch ideas and practices of tolerance and reflect on how these historical legacies are mobilized in contemporary debates over national identity. 

Program activities will include virtual tours (including the Black Heritage Amsterdam Tour), guest speakers, and a workshop with Dutch writer and politician Tofik Dibi, whose first book, Djinn, was just published in English (SUNY Press, translated by Nicolaas P. Barr). We are also working on planning a series of collaborative class meetings with Dutch university students (TBD). 

To learn more, check out this video from the 2019 program (which was co-sponsored by UW Athletics):

Courses: 
  • CHID 470: Tolerance, Identity, and Difference (5 credits I&S)
Fulfills Requirements: 
CHID Cultural and Historical Engagement
CHID Ideas in the World
CHID Power & Difference
I&S Credit
Total Program Fees: 
TBD
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